Tom and Monica Rogan of Goodnow Farms Chocolate with FCIA Executive Director Bill Guyton
Goodnow Farms Chocolate is a craft chocolate maker located in Sudbury, MA. They are known for importing single-origin cocoa beans for use in their award-winning chocolates. Founders Monica and Tom Rogan took time to answer a few questions.
1. How did you get started in the fine chocolate industry? What was your motivation for starting Goodnow Farms?
We first tasted craft chocolate many years ago, and it opened up a whole new world of flavor we never knew existed. The flavors inspired us to start making chocolate in our home kitchen, and once we started buying our own beans we also became aware of the many issues related to cacao sourcing. Our love of the creative process involved in making single origin bars combined with our desire to source cacao more equitably is why we started Goodnow Farms Chocolate.
2. Your company sources beans directly from origin. How do you go about doing this? What do you see as the advantages of single origin chocolate?
We travel to origin to find our beans. We do this because we quickly realized it's the only way to guarantee a certain flavor profile, ensure we receive that flavor profile consistently, and also truly understand working conditions at origin. All of the beans we use come from producers and farmers we've visited, and work with them as directly as possible.
The biggest advantage of single origin chocolate is flavor. All of the time, effort and passion that goes into every step of the single origin process is fully realized when the unique flavors of this incredible fruit are apparent in the chocolate. Only single origin chocolate can provide that flavor experience.
3. Can you share with us one of your greatest achievements at Good Now Farms?
We're very proud of having won awards from so many respected organizations, like the Specialty Food Association and International Chocolate Awards. In the three years since we launched we've won 38 awards, and it's always gratifying when the hard work we put into every aspect of our chocolate making is recognized in that way. Another thing we're very proud of is pressing our own cocoa butter. Pressing our own was a huge challenge when we started, and is still difficult process, but the true single origin flavor makes it worth the extra effort.
4. What advice would you give to a chocolate maker entering the business today?
There are so many things. Visit and talk with other chocolate makers in order to understand the incredible amount of labor and expense involved in making craft chocolate. Create a business plan so that you'll know, among other things, what kind of volume you'll need to cover expenses. Have a plan, or at least a general understanding, regarding how to scale up. Think about how you'll position yourself in an already crowded marketplace.
5. How can the fine chocolate industry work together to grow the market?
This may go without saying, but consumer education. We've found that most people still have no idea why single origin chocolate is different from what they get in a Hershey bar, and because of this they don't understand the price point. We need a clear, concise, and consistent message which communicates chocolate is a food with unique flavors, and not just an additive-laden candy. Some consumers already understand what craft chocolate is, but that group is incredibly small and can't support the volume of sales needed to ensure the craft chocolate industry will thrive.